Model A1419 / EMC 2806 / Late 2014 or Mid 2015. 3.3 or 3.5 GHz Core i5 or 4.0 GHz Core i7 (ID iMac15,1); EMC 2834 late 2015 / 3.3 or 3.5 GHz Core i5 or 4.0 GHz Core i7 (iMac17,1) All with Retina 5K displays

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m.2 or normal SSD?


I am considering buying an iMac 5k. Perhaps you can help me with choosing the right one.

By choosing the 256 GB SSD option: Is this going to be a normal SSD or a m.2-SSD like coming with the fusion drive? I only found teardowns of iMacs coming with a fusion drive but not with ones coming only with a SSD.

Can you help me, please?

Best regards,


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The newer 27" 'Thin Series' iMac's have two drive interfaces: A SATA III for a traditional spinning disk HD and a custom PCIe blade drive which is similar to the M.2 drives but uses a custom physical interface. M.2 SSD's are not compatible in this system!

A Fusion Drive'd system is were these two drives are bonded together logically into a single drive. Thus leveraging the benefits of each, a traditional HD for its deep storage and the SSD for is speed.

Here's the IFIXIT guide to replace (install) the PCIe x4 SSD in this system: iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display SSD Replacement as you can see we've put a lot of warnings as this is a very big job and if you make a mistake quite costly! So I would not recommend trying to do this if you can avoid it.

Here is the IFIXIT guide to replace (install) a SATA drive: iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display Hard Drive Replacement as you can see its a lot less work but if you aren't careful you can damage the display assembly! So make sure you use the correct tools and get new adhesive strips (maybe a few sets just in case).

If you decide to go with a Fusion Drive config remember you need to break the fusion set before swapping out the HD and you can't rebuild a Fusion Drive using two SSD's.

So, the bottomline here is buy a iMac with the biggest SSD you can afford (you can custom order a SSD only system), then if you must upgrade later on focus on just replacing the HD and you can only use a traditional HD in a Fusion Drive setup. You can still run the two drives independently if you want to! So you can run dual SSD's just not in a fusion drive setup.

iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display Hard Drive Image


iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display Hard Drive Replacement



1 - 2 hours

iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display Blade SSD Image


iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display Blade SSD Replacement



2 hours

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Thank you very much! I'm sorry for making you work more than necessary:-( Have I understood that correctly: If I ordered an iMac only with flash storage I'll get an iMac with a custom PCIe blade drive and not a 2,5" SSD, right?


Correct! Apple does not offer 2.5" SSD drives in this series, they only offer the custom Apple blade drives. Again, you could order either a Fusion Drive config (2 drives) or a single drive config: with either only a SATA HD drive or only a PCIe SSD blade drive. Review this Apple web site: iMac Specs. As you can see in the storage section you have a few custom options depending on the exact model you are thinking about.


@danj Thank you very much! This helped a lot!


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Your system has a custom Apple SSD I have a full answer coming.

Sorry for the delay ;-{ I had written a full answer for you but our system burped! I was hoping to recover it Vs re-writing it. Alas, its lost to the ether of the internet never to be found. Below you'll find a second posting with the full answer.

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Do I get a 2,5" SSD?


@tonemaster wait just a while, we are working techs and it's Monday morning. Giving a concise informed answer take's some time, just a couple of hours. It would help to know EXACTLY which machine you are considering. Off the shelf sticks will not work in an Apple.


@mayer - My answer was spammed. Can you recover it?


@danj I don't have that kind of access. We'll need @kaykay to do that. SPAM filters have been overactive this weekend.


Hey boys! Not sure what's going on, but having the team look into it now. Sorry for the annoyance :(


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Christian Zeiger will be eternally grateful.
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